International hockey in Sutherland Shire

Belgium's men's and women teams brought international hockey to Sutherland Shire for the first time this week and both left with a win.

The Red Lions mens team and women's Red Panthers are here to play this weekend in double headers against Australia's Kookaburras and Hockeyroos at Olympic Park, Homebush, in their first matches of the 2020 global hockey Pro League.

In perfect conditions on Tuesday , a big crowd turned out at Tradies Hockey Park at Sylvania to see the Red Lions men's selection hold out a fast finishing Australia A 2-1, while the Red Panthers women contained a NSW Institute of Sport team having its first run of 2020 to a 8-1 scoreline.

Sutherland Club president John Mulcair said they were delighted by the day, bringing international hockey to their club. .

" To have an event of this high standard delivered by our entirely volunteer club says a great deal about both our members and the spirit of people in the Shire. Thank you to them all." John said

Sutherland Hockey club's Jack Hayes turned on his usual silky skills for Australia A, while Zoe Newman, Grace Young and Naomi Duncan lined up for the NSW Institute for the Women.

Australia A was reinforced with several senior Kookaburras for a match that was a supremely fast and a highly skilled display of modern hockey was played on Sutherland's new Olympic standard synthetic pitch.

Both sides attacked relentlessly, but neither could get through tough defence until the Australians got one in much to the crowds delight five minutes from three-quarter time.

The 2018 World Cup winning Belgians equalized in the last quarter by threading the ball through packed defence. A clinical deflection into goal off a blistering pass across the backline took them to 2-1 and had the fans on their feet.

With a minute to go, the Aussies had the Belgians packed in their defensive circle, but despite three successive penalty corners, couldn't get the ball into the goal and grab a draw.

The Belgian teams headquartered their training camps at Sutherland Hockey Club in an initiative led by High Performance Director of Belgian hockey, Adam Commens - a former Australian and Sutherland player - and the club.

The Belgian contingent of more than 50 athletes and support staff spent up to three weeks based in the Shire and Red Lions manager, Eric Pirenne said "We're coming back."